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Nitric oxide results

R-phrases R23, R24, R25, R34, R44
S-phrases S23, S36, S37, S39
Supplementary data page
Phase behaviour
Solid, liquid, gas
Spectral data
Related compounds
Related nitrogen oxides Nitrous oxide
Nitrogen dioxide
Dinitrogen trioxide
Dinitrogen tetroxide
Dinitrogen pentoxide
Related compounds
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

The chemical compound nitric oxide is a gas with formula N O. It is an important signaling molecule in the body of mammals, including humans—one of the few gaseous signaling molecules known. It is also a toxic air pollutant produced by automobile engines and power plants.

Nitric oxide (NO) should not be confused with nitrous oxide (N2O), a general anesthetic, or with nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is another poisonous air pollutant.

The nitric oxide molecule is a free radical, which is relevant to understanding its high reactivity. It reacts with the oxygen in air to form nitrogen dioxide, signaled by the appearance of the reddish-brown color.

Production and environmental effects

From a thermodynamic perspective, NO is unstable with respect to O2 and N2, although this conversion is very slow at ambient temperatures in the absence of a catalyst. Because the heat of formation of NO is endothermic, its synthesis from molecular nitrogen and oxygen requires elevated temperatures, >1, 000 °C. A major natural source is lightning. The use of internal combustion engines has drastically increased the presence of nitric oxide in the environment. One purpose of catalytic converters in cars is to minimize NO formation by catalytic reversion to O2 and N2.

Nitric oxide in the air may convert to nitric acid, which has been implicated in acid rain. Furthermore, both NO and NO2 participate in ozone layer depletion. Nitric oxide (NO) is a small highly diffusible gas and a ubiquitous bioactive molecule.

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